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Friday, October 3, 2008

Culture Shock

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The STAGES of ADJUSTMENT Culture Shock has been described as “an emotional and psychological reaction to the confusion, ambiguity, value conflicts and hidden clashes that occur as a result of the fundamentally different ways of perceiving the world and interacting socially between cultures”.

The term 'culture shock' may be a new addition to your vocabulary if you are having your first taste of overseas living. The concept is something we should neither fear nor dread. The process of adjustment is practically inevitable and happens to all of us, even the most seasoned -international expatriates. Cultural shock is also not limited to a 'foreign country or culture'.
For those long-term overseas dwellers eventually returning to their home country, the re-entry process can also be 'shocking'. requiring time for adjustment and recovery.

The Culture Shock Process is an attempt to conceptualise the adjustment process as it relates to cultural adjustment. Depending on which author you read, there are a series of stages (from four to ten) which you may experience as you cope with the new situations in which you live and work.

If you were fortunate to have had ample time to contemplate your move to Indonesia, you might have had an opportunity to study the environment in which you and your family would be living. Pre-departure planning can assist greatly in a family's transition, however it cannot eliminate the inevitable – your personal and family's reaction to change.

With or without pre-departure orientation, you create for yourself preconceived ideas and expectations about the new culture. This helps you navigate in unfamiliar territory with a kind of road map. You may find yourself fascinated with your new surroundings, confident about your future and excited about the new possibilities for professional and leisure pursuits. This is the first stage of adjustment. Some authors refer to it as the 'honeymoon period'.

Personal reactions to this first stage may include astonishment, wonder, elation and excitement. You become intense in your desire to comprehend the differences in the host culture. Your communications home go on endlessly about all the novel experiences you encounter. There is drama in almost every activity, even the most mundane.

As with most honeymoons, the rose-coloured glasses come off after two or three months when the romance and novelty no longer exist. Frustration ushers in the second stage that can last six to eight months. The mood is more of confusion and surprise.

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